During rehearsals for the military parade on September 3rd, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in China, the Second Artillery Corps of the People’s Liberation Army has for the first time publicly shown some of the most modern missiles in its inventory.
According to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, the parade preparations offered glimpses on new missiles such as the Dong Feng (DF, East Wind) DF-15B short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), the DF-16 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), the DF-21C MRBM, the warhead section of the DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the DF-31 A ICBM, the DF-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM) and the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) – dubbed the “Guam killer” missile.
The presence of the DF-26 at the rehearsals was confirmed by Shao Yongling, a senior colonel from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Second Artillery Command College in an interview with the Global Times:
The latest weaponry – the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile that could reach a major US base in Guam in the western Pacific, and the most potent missile, the DF-5 intercontinental ballistic missile, were seen in the rehearsal.
“As with all other missiles at the rehearsal, the DF-26C missile was covered to conceal details. That said, it appears to have three stages with a lengthy nose cone that potentially could incorporate terminal guidance systems,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports. A terminally guided warhead could imply that the DF-26C will be used as an anti-ship weapon in the future.
The new intermediate-range nuclear missile called the Dongfeng-26C (DF-26C) is a derivative of the DF-21 – the PLA’s notorious “carrier killer” missile – and has a range of 3,500 to 4,000 km, which would put the U.S. military bases on Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands within its range.
The Pentagon’s 2015 annual report to Congress on China’s military modernization still only cryptically discussed the new IRBM:
Foreign press and Chinese military bloggers indicate that China is also developing a new advanced IRBM with the capability to strike targets at ranges up to 4,000 km from the Chinese coast, which would include U.S. bases on Guam.
China accidentally revealed the existence of the DF-26C in 2012 with reports about the existence of the missile circulating already since at least 2007. It allegedly can be fitted unto a road-mobile chassis – called transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) – and uses solid fuel. Based on the TEL, it appears that the DF-26C is produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). “The fuel and mobility allow the missile to be hidden in underground facilities and fired on short notice, making it very difficult to counter in a conflict,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.